It’s been a rough year for festivals. Mass gatherings that were once commonplace have suddenly become one of society’s greatest taboos, thanks to the spread of COVID-19, putting everything from concerts to Mardi Gras in a state of limbo for the time being.
One of the world’s most popular festivals is Oktoberfest, a massive beer-soaked, bratwurst-stuffed affair that attracts more than 6 million people each year in Munich, Germany. The festival takes place over several weeks between the end of September and early October, but sadly, like everything else that’s even remotely fun, it’s been canceled for 2020.
But let’s be honest — how many of you were really planning on heading to Munich for this event anyway? Maybe a few, but we suspect that the vast majority of you were likely to be right here in South Jersey throughout the entirety of Oktoberfest, and you still are, so nothing really has changed that much overall. In fact, we have some good news. Oktoberfest may be canceled in Germany, but here in South Jersey, it lives on!
OK fine, the big annual Oktoberfest celebration at Smithville Village won’t be happening either, and the giant crowds are surely not a part of any celebration in 2020, but smaller fests and exciting menu additions at local bars and restaurants will give you ample opportunities to raise a stein and toast to good times.
Here are the best local spots to celebrate Oktoberfest.
The Steel Pier Over at the Steel Pier Bar, Oktoberfest will be celebrated throughout the entire month of October, with $5 Bourbon sours and $5 drafts of Tuckahoe Pumpkin Ale. Speaking of pumpkins, if you have never hurled an axe through a pumpkin, now is your chance. Throughout October, AC Axe & Pub, located on the Steel Pier, will offer guests a chance to try their skills at “Smash-O-Lantern,” a slightly modified version of the usual axe throwing experience, only this time utilizing hanging pumpkins in place of the traditional bullseyes. The Steel Pier Bar and AC Axe & Pub are located at the Steel Pier, 1000 Boardwalk in Atlantic City. Go to SteelPier.com
Mickey & Minnie’s For authentic German food in South Jersey, the go-to spot for years has always been Mickey & Minnie’s in Egg Harbor City. And guess what? It still is. In celebration of Oktoberfest they have put together a fantastic menu worthy of a festival of this magnitude. The list is extensive and guests can choose from such tasty dishes as weinerschnitzel, jaegerschnitzel, German potato pancakes, sauerbraten, bratwursts, Bavarian pretzels and much more. And in case you need one more reason to head on over, this year Mickey & Minnie’s has teamed up with the good folks over at Hidden Sands Brewery to create their very own beer, Mickey & Minnie’s Germania Oktoberfest, which is currently available on tap. Mickey & Minnie’s is located at 733 W. White Horse Pike in Egg Harbor City. Go to MickeyAndMinnies.com.
Tennessee Avenue Beer Hall From 11:30 a.m. to close Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 3 and 4, Tennessee Avenue Beer Hall in Atlantic City will host its annual Oktoberfest celebration. This year’s event will feature a full transformation of their outdoor Beer Yard, with festive décor and staff decked out in their Bavarian best. In addition to that you can indulge in a variety of German beers on tap, including Hofbrau Oktoberfestbier, Warsteiner Oktoberfest and Konig Ludwig Dunkle just to name a few, plus a list of pumpkin beers from brands like Dogfish Head and Southern Tier just to add to the fall fun. In the kitchen, Chef Charles Soreth will have an entire feast’s worth of German favorites added to the menu, including bratwurst, short rib sauerbraten, German potato salad and a pork schnitzel sandwich. Beers will be served in traditional steins, and there will be live polka music from former NFL Kicker Don Bitterlich beginning at 3 p.m. Saturday, while Sunday’s musical lineup will feature Tony DeLuca and The Polka Dots playing all your polka favorites. Tennessee Avenue Beer Hall is located at 133 S. Tennessee Ave. in Atlantic City. Go to TennesseeAvenueBeerHall.com.
Rhythm & Spirits Just a few steps from the Beer Hall, Rhythm & Spirits may not be the kind of place you would traditionally associate with Oktoberfest, but then again, traditional has never been the vibe at this Orange Loop hot spot. This year they will host an Oktoberfest-themed drag show at 1 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 3, featuring drag star Jenna Tall, who will perform a raucous show complete with German-inspired songs and costumes. Advance reservations are recommended. Rhythm & Spirits is located at 129 S. Tennessee Ave. in Atlantic City. Go to RhythmAndSpirits.com.
Resorts Casino Hotel While the whole casino may not be throwing an Oktoberfest celebration, several spots within Resorts will feature specials. Breadstick’s Café and Grill will have an entire menu devoted to Oktoberfest, which will include potato latkes with sour cream and chives; a Bavarian pretzel with Guinness cheese sauce, crispy chicken schnitzel with shaved kale, Jaeger sauce and preserved lemon; cheddar bratwurst served on a sourdough roll with pickled vegetables and malt fries; apple strudel ala mode; and the Berliner —a fried donut with mixed berry jelly and powdered sugar. They will also have $5 bottles of Sam’s Oktoberfest. Over at Ruby’s Dinette both pumpkin pancakes and waffles will join the menu just in time for Oktoberfest. Resorts Casino Hotel is located at 1133 Boardwalk in Atlantic City. Go to ResortsAC.com.
Ocean Casino Resort Just down the boards from Resorts, Ocean Casino gets in on the Oktoberfest action at their ever popular bar and restaurant Villain and Saint where guests will be able to choose from a variety of Oktoberfest-inspired specials throughout the entire month of October. Some of the items up for grabs include kasepatzle — (a house-made spaetzli with melted cheeses and caramelized onions); laugenbrezel (a German soft pretzel with beer cheese for dipping); and sauerbraten (braised beef short ribs with German potato salad). Folks can wash it all down with a variety of German beers including a Benediktiner Festbier, a Marzen Oktoberfest Bier from Germany and a Kostritzer Schwarzbier, a German Black Lager. Ocean Casino Resort is located at 500 Boardwalk in Atlantic City. Go to TheOceanAC.com.
Absecon Lighthouse OK fine, this one doesn’t include hoisting of beer steins or the mass consumption of schnitzels and sausages, but for the month of October any guest will receive $1 off the admission price of their climb at Absecon Lighthouse simply by saying the word “leuchtturm” — it’s German for “lighthouse”— when purchasing. Absecon Lighthouse is located at 31 S. Rhode Island Ave. in Atlantic City. Go to AbseconLighthouse.org.
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